How grateful living can change the world
The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word grateful as follows: “Feeling or showing an appreciation for something done or received.”
Gratefulness is an abstract noun formed by adding the suffix -ness to grateful. Simple as. But how is gratefulness important in our lives?
The world’s entire population could not be more diverse. Yet, we all have one thing in common. Each of us wants to be happy.
Our modern-day culture of mass-consumerism offers us, an incalculable number of ways to strive for happiness. From the acquisition of material goods. To self-help books. And a multitude of other proposed solutions in-between. But why are so many of us not happy?
Far too many of us are seeking a quick life-hack to happiness.
There is a common mistake many of us make. We compare ourselves to other people. We compare our lives to those we perceive as being happier or more successful than ourselves. For example, we may idolise a football player or celebrity. And we ask ourselves why we are not as successful or as happy as them. The world of modern media arguably exacerbates this.
We miss the beauty in our own lives whilst we are looking at the lives of others.
I always look to evidence-based research for my perspectives and outlooks on life. There is no robust evidence to inform us that comparing our lives to others will ever make us happy.
A common observation we all see throws a curveball into the mix. We will often come across individuals in our lives. Individuals who have experienced incredible trauma. Such individuals may also appear to be less successful than us. And yet they are deeply happy. They are not just superficially happy. They radiate happiness to others. Why is this?
Paradoxically, we all know someone who appears to have everything that should make them happy. And yet they are not happy. They may want more success. Or more material goods. They will get such things. But, they remain unhappy.
So how do we use gratefulness to be happy? We need the acquisition of something valuable. I am not talking about value in a monetary sense. But something that holds personal value to us. It does not matter what it is. It is the value to us that is important.
Secondly, whatever this is, we must be given it. Not earned it. Not purchased it. But given it. Given it by circumstance or opportunity.
I accept this is very abstract. But please hang on in there.
When given something freely, of such value, something happens to us. Gratefulness occurs. And from gratefulness, a feeling of happiness occurs.
I’m sure someone will think to themselves “that is easier said than done.” Of course. But, life is after all whatever we want to make of it.
We can either challenge our thought processes, perspectives and strive for more from life. Or remain static.
There is a key element to remember from the perspective that gratefulness leads to happiness. It is not a one-off occurrence. It is not an occurrence that needs to seldom happen.
We must not wait for these occurrences to take place. Nor must we wait for such occurrences to present themselves to us. We can live gratefully. But how?
By living gratefully we are grateful for every given moment.
Now it is not possible in our modern lives to stop and be grateful for every single minute.
But being grateful for as many moments in our lives leads to happiness. When we view any given moment as an opportunity and feel grateful for this gift, we experience a sense of happiness.
It is the opportunity that is the gift. We can choose to dismiss this given opportunity. Or we can take advantage of every given opportunity to make something positive from it. And remember, we were given this opportunity.
Now, understandably we should not be grateful for every adversity we come across. Nor should we be grateful for social injustices. Such as war, corruption etc.
But, when faced with life’s adversities we should push ourselves to rise above them. We should push ourselves to manage such occasions. And be grateful for the opportunity to grow from such experiences. And that is the essence of grateful living.
We should push ourselves to be grateful in as many moments as possible.
Those individuals who are grateful are joyful. Imagine if you will the following:
The more people that adhere to grateful living, the more joyful the world becomes.
Grateful living is the ultimate no-brainer. It not only benefits you. It also benefits the world around us.
Originally published in Medium publication ‘The Ascent‘ 14/06/19.